MUMBAI — Legendary Indian actor Akkineni Nageswara Rao died in Hyderabad, India, on Wednesday after a long battle with intestinal cancer. He was 91.
Rao debuted in 1941 with “Dharmapatni” and went on to star in more than 250 films. Though he acted in the Tamil and Hindi languages, he was primarily active in the Telugu language film industry. Memorable roles include “Devadasu,” “Premabhishekam,” “Prem Nagar” and “Laila Majnu.” During the course of his long career, Rao won several kudos, including India’s highest film honor, the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.
Besides his acting, Rao was also one of the key figures responsible for the Telugu-language film industry shifting its base from Chennai, Tamil Nadu, to Hyderabad, the capital of the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where Telugu is the majority language. He founded Annapurna Studios, which remains a major player in the Telugu industry.
Two sons and three daughters survive Rao. Of these, his son Akkineni Nagarjuna and his grandson Naga Chaitanya are popular actors in the Telugu industry. Rao’s last completed film was the as-yet-unreleased “Manam,” starring all three generations of his family.